This season is going to be a tough year for Arsenal as the teams around them have strengthened over summer but Arsenal haven’t been able to get any big deals over the line as of yet. They have brought in Xhaka to provide defensive cover in midfield and appear to be in talks with Mahrez, but do they really need another creative midfielder? They have a wealth of talent in midfield, with Sanchez, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ozil,Oxlade-Chamberlain, any of those would get in the top sides midfield on any given day. What they are really lacking a quality striker, Welbeck and Giroud have enough goals between them to help a successful campaign, but they don’t have that talisman who will score them 25 goals a year, a title winning performance. The defence still has a point to prove, they can produce high quality performances, but have vulnerabilities that are exposed too easily, the pace of Mertesacker remains a huge worry, and with little cover his knee injury only worsens the issue. The team has the performances and the ability to make a run at the title, especially with the league so full of change this season. Do they have the ability to keep up their challenge for a full season? I don’t think so. I’m not even sure they will have enough to make the Champions league next season. Arsenal to finish in the top 6 at 1/6 with www.skybet.com
This will be another tough year for Bournemouth as they will struggle to build a squad that will keep them in the Premier League. Howe has built himself a team with a sharp attack, and plenty of options. They looked like they would struggle last season as they were plagued with injuries, new signings Gradel and Mings never really had chance to prove themselves in the top flight. He’s removed some of the players that helped Bournemouth stay in the Premier League last season, with Elphick and Ritchie moving on. He’s brought in Ibe for a club record free, and with Cook and Mousset also joining the squad. It’s strange to see Howe strengthen the areas of his side that were already asset rich, and that is a concern. Only Villa conceded more goals than Bournemouth last season, and that is worrying. Teams will look at Bournemouth this year and know that they will likely take all 3 points from them if they can limit the chances they create, backing themselves to score against a fragile defence. Howe will ask his men to go toe-to-toe, but with new signings will he lose the sense of togetherness that dragged the side to some big results last season? only time will tell. They should have enough to survive relegation, but it will be tight, and Bournemouth to be relegated at 7/2 maybe worth a look with www.betvictor.com .
Burnley have to get off to a better start this year. Their last run at the Premier League saw them not pick up a single win in the opening 10 fixtures and if they start that way again, it’s likely they will suffer the same fate. It must be terribly difficult for Burnley fans to hear about all the money in the Premier League, and all the parachute payments, to see virtually no re-investment in the squad at all. This summer should have been filled with promise for the fans but instead it looks like same old same old. They have made 1 key signing in Gudmundsson but it isn’t exactly a marque signing, yes he’s a good player but they need great players. The side is comprised of good Championship players and a strong team ethic. That is what Dyche will be playing on next season, and it looks like it will be a long season of grinding out results. With the teams that they will be competing against bringing in top quality players, the division will be more competitive than ever, and I really think they will struggle to create chances and score goals. If that’s the case then Burnley to be relegated at evens with www.skybet.com looks good value.
Last year we thought Chelsea should mount a real title challenge, what they showed us was a shower of Sh*t. The team under-performed so badly last season that saying it was a blip was a huge understatement, but that team isn’t a side that should be finishing 10th in the table. It’s full of top talent and they have strengthened over summer. Conte has the right attitude and if he can instil that in the players they will get back on the right track. With all the money and success at the clubs the players seem to have lost their way, many believing they are bigger than the club they represent. No player is bigger than the shirt. Chelsea were at their strongest when Makélélé bolstered that midfield, he was so good at it, it defined a role within the game, and that is something that Kante will look to emulate. He should provide the much needed cover to a defence that was too easily breached last season. The defence is still a cause for concern, but a change of tactics and play style could see the best brought out of them. Chelsea are missing a striker with Costa blowing hot and cold but it looks as though Lukaku could be heading to the Bridge, although it’s not completed yet. The attack last season was missing their star man, Hazard went missing and that was a huge loss, he remains at Chelsea, but will he turn up this season. He will be key if they are to succeed. A lot depends on how Conte pulls the team together, if he can get the big names firing this season, the squad is more than a match for anyone in the league, and we are backing the new manager to get the job done and win the league at 6/1 with www.betfred.com
Palace are a side that should be safe this season, and the longer they remain in the Premier League, the better it will be for the clubs future. They aren’t a side that will be pushing or challenging at the top of the table, but with some solid investment in the coming years, they could be looking to move up the league. Their form towards the end of the season was very disappointing, they looked to be satisfied with avoiding relegation and they took the foot off the gas, they couldn’t put their foot back on and they were almost relegated. They got such a fast start last season, winning 9 of their first 17, mainly thanks to Bolaise and will be looking for the same thing again. Mandanda is a huge signing and should solidify Palace at the back, hopefully removing the errors that plagued Hennessey. Counter-attacking football is the style of football that Pardew likes to play, and his players are on board with it. You will get upsets both for and against this team, but they have enough quality to stay up. A top half finish should be their aim, but there is a lot of competition.
Everton severely under performed last season and part of the blame, if not all of the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Martinez. His inability to organise a defence saw a side full of raw talent, concede too many goals, and throw away points on a regular basis. There is a danger that they will lose Lukaku in this window and that would be a huge loss. Koeman will have to move swiftly if he loses him, because a player of that quality is not easily replaced, even if he does have flaws. John Stones is another player that the team could have been built around, but the pressure placed on him by the fans has seen the relationship sour, and he’s another player that will likely move on. After a season in limbo, the manager needs to reorganise the side and get the team back on track. This club is prime to make a run at the top of the table and with the right management they can make it. This season is likely to be a re-building effort and a top half finish would be a decent return to form, a challenge at a spot in Europe would be a success, but it all depends on who remains when the window closes. Everton to finish in the top 10 at 1/2 with www.williamhill.com .
Hull managed a successful promotion campaign last season, but it may all be for nothing. The owner has decided that he would like to sell up, and there appear to be no buyers on the horizon. With the owner seemingly unwilling to put up the cash required, management have struggled to recruit players in spite of their new top flight status. Steve Bruce has flown the coop and it now leaves them manager-less, rudderless, hopeless. The squad that Hull were promoted with have substantial injuries and it’s speculated that only 13 senior Hull City players are fit enough to start the season. It’s a long season and without any transfers the threadbare squad will struggle, especially towards the end of the season. If they get off to a slow start, the negative attitude surrounding the club at the moment will spread to the players. They open up against Leicester, with Man United, Arsenal and Chelsea all coming early in the season. This looks to be a doomed season from the start, and Derby’s lowest points total could be in threat here. Hull to finish bottom at 11/4 with www.betvictor.com seems good value.
Will Leicester repeat the heroics of last season? No. They’ve already lost Kante and if Mahrez goes too they will be a couple cards short of a full deck. Vardy has signed a new deal which will keep him at the club which is a bonus, but teams now know how to stop him. Leicester didn’t have the best team last year, but they did have a togetherness, and they will need that if they are to succeed again. They will have a lot more fixtures this year, with the Champions League been a real treat for the fans this season, the Foxes will welcome some of the top teams in Europe and any progression at all would be a real achievement. That said I think they will struggle this season, they’ve brought in some good players, with Musa and Mendy, but the team is aging at the back. Can Huth and Morgan have another superb season? I worry about their legs over the course of a longer season. With teams setting up more defensively, and with Mahrez possibly on the way out, this season will probably be a disappointment for fans. I under-estimated Leicester last season, and I may be doing it again here, but I feel Leicester to finish in the bottom half at 5/2 with www.betfred.com is a solid bet.
Liverpool fans are adjusting to life under Klopp in a league that see’s the top teams spend huge amounts of money to challenge at the top. Klopp hasn’t spent huge money, but has picked up a number of players to improve a first 11 that was one of the weakest Liverpool sides in recent years. Skrtel has left and that appears to be a good bit of business for the side, as he was often at fault for goals they just shouldn’t be conceding at this level. They finished 8th in the league last season, a disappointing finish but it means they can focus on the Premier League without any long trips into Europe. Klopp has brought in Mane and Wijnaldum as attacking options in midfield, but the midfield was one of their strongest areas last season, so it seems a rather strange decision. Most fans wanted to see the back of Mignolet, but Karius has a broken hand, and it’s uncertain whether Klopp see’s him as his first choice. The defence in recent years has been prone to weakness, and the signings don’t appear to have solidified it enough. Fewer games means less squad rotation, and the players should be able to stay in better shape. It’s likely to be a better season, with Klopp starting to put his stamp on the team, but with the quality of opposition, they may have to settle for a spot in the top 7.
Man City were so excited about signing Guardiola that they couldn’t wait until the end of the season to announce it. It was a poor move in my opinion, spitting in the face of a servant to the club in Pellegrini. The players seemed to take cue from this, turning in some abject performances towards the end of the season. There is a huge issue that Pep has to address and that’s the vulnerability at the back and the reliance on Kompany. When comparing the stats with him in and out of the team, they were night and day. When he plays, City win , when he doesn’t they don’t. Every year he gets older, and the injuries are stacking up, can he make a full season? I doubt it, and that’s a huge issue. There are plenty of players with huge talent at City, but a number aren’t quite as good as their reputation, Sterling & Bony to name a couple. Pep has brought in some good players, with Sane, Gundogan and Nolito to name a couple. Stones looks to be on his way too, but he’s not a fully matured player yet. Aguero & De Bruyne are going to be key this season, if they can stay fit, they will be devastating, but it’s not an easy task. Pep should sort out some of the issues, but I feel it will take more than a season to stamp his style and ethos on the team, achieving the consistency the fans want. There is a lot of creativity in this team and if it can be harnessed, City to be the top goalscorers at 2/1 with www.betfred.com is a real possibility.
The misfortunes of Man United in recent years have brought joy to a number of people, and heartache to plenty of others. Moyes wasn’t the man for the job and neither was LVG. Will Jose be the right man? it’s hard to say, clubs have iconic managers once a generation and maybe Ferguson will not have a worthy successor in the years to come. What we do know is that Jose has already got to work sorting out the squad, he’s brought in Zlatan & Mkhitaryan to show he means business. One is an experience strike, and self proclaimed legend, the other was a star at Dortmund with 19 goals and 24 assists on his way to collecting the Bundesliga player of the year. Rashford showed promise and he should progress in the coming year. The Pogba speculation has been done to death so I will not at to it, but no deal was complete at the time of writing. Shaw should be coming back in this year, and the defence started to look settled with Smalling leading the line. The main thrust of the transfers is players who offer an attacking threat. Jose looks to have been given the mandate of playing aggressive, attacking football, the Man United style. They managed just 49 goals last season, their lowest total goals scored in decades. The team has bought well, bringing in, high quality, attacking players with proven goal scoring ability. If Jose can get the best out of his players, they should go close this season, and I fancy them to finish 2nd. Man United to be the top North West club at 6/4 with www.williamhill.com looks good value.
Newly promoted sides need to get the majority of their work done in the 1st half of the season, before the dreaded second half syndrome sets in. The more data the top teams have on a side, the more they are able to cope with them, and use their additional quality to gain the result. Early fixtures through up matches with Stoke, Palace, Sunderland and West Brom, all sides they could gain a victory against. They have brought in some good signings with Valdes and Negredo being the big names. The defence will be key for their success this season as they don’t have a proven Premier League goalscorer, with Negredo aging and Rhodes/Nugent unproven at this level. To aid this they have brought in Fischer from Ajax, a solid looking player, but will he be able to make the step up? It’s hard to say. The midfield is occupied by Clayton and Leadbitter and they should have enough talent to create chances at this level, especially against the weaker sides. The main goal this season is staying up, and that only means been better than 3 teams in the division. The owners have backed some big spending in summer and if they need further investment in January they are likely to get it. That backing by the board may be the edge they have over other sides at the bottom. Middlesbrough to stay up at 8/15 with www.betfred.com
Southampton managed another successful season last year as Koeman guided them to the top half of the table. They were challenging for Europe towards the end, but just ran out of steam as the sides with bigger squads, and more money outlasted them. This summer was another huge blow for Southampton as their squad was once again pillaged and the manager followed his players out. Puel has been brought in, a man who managed Nice to 4th in the league with limited resources. He seems a good fit for the job but with Pelle, Mane and Wanyama all gone they are likely to struggle. There is only so many times you can have your top talent bought and replace them with players who can fill their shoes. Long managed 10 goals last season, but he will need help from Rodriguez. It looks like the squad is bare, their starting 11 should be good enough to stay up, but I don’t believe they have enough depth in their squad for the full season. Fonte is going to be the key man this season, the defender needs to keep the side ticking over, and maintain the organisation they managed last season. Unfortunately it’s probably going to be a disappointing season for the home fans, with a bottom half finish at 11/8 with www.Bet365.com seeming likely.
Stoke have been rock solid under Mark Hughes, he’s taken the tedious but effective brand of football Pulis played and replaced it with a consistent more attractive version. They’ve finished 9th in 3 consecutive seasons and are looking to strengthen, with views of challenging for a spot in Europe. Joe Allen has been brought in to work along side Arnautovic and Shaqiri, with Imbula arriving last January. It’s a positive attacking midfield, but it’s not burdened with any superstar egos. They are chasing after Berahino as they look to find a genuine striker, but unless they can get the deal done quickly, it looks like Bojan will have to play in an ill-favoured position once again. The defence at Stoke has always been a key asset with Shawcross leading the line. He is a huge player for them and they concede far fewer goals when both he and Butland are in the team. The Premier League is getting more and more competitive and teams aren’t just fighting for survival and Europe, the top half is going to be a challenge. Stoke are consistent and that shouldn’t be ruled out, with a top half finish at 2/1 with www.betfred.com.
Sunderland have 1 job this season and that’s to stay up. Big Sam did a great job last season in guiding them to safety, but he’s taken the England job and passed the baton to Moyes. The club has got rid of a lot of fringe players and reduced the playing squad to a smaller number of players. It should make it easier to stamp his mark on the team, and may leave room for a couple of signings. They have been linked with both Fellaini and Januzaj, both players would improve the squad and give them a better chance of staying up. Defoe saved them last season, scoring 15 goals and many of them saved matches and accumulated points. He’s 34 now and he needs support, there are no concrete rumors out there and they may struggle to score goals this season. Rodwell needs to prove a point this season after failing to impress last season, but he may get more of a run out under Moyes. They key for them this season is consistency and picking up points at home. A quick start would alleviate pressure on the manager early on, something that has plagued managers at recent years, many not making it to the end of the year. With Moyes in charge and a couple of signings they should be capable of beating the drop.
This could be a tough year for Swansea, especially if they lose their captain Williams. They will rely on a good defensive record this year as they lack real fire power up front. They haven’t recovered since the departure of Bony and Gomis has now left the club. Thankfully they’ve locked in Sigurdsson on a longer deal and his goals from midfield will be required if they are to stay up. They’ve signed Fer and Van Der Hoorn, but they aren’t signings that make you stop and take notice. The experience they have at this level, and the battle they went through last season will stand them in good stead, but a small squad and limited resources will mean another tough season for the Swans. Staying up will be the main goal this season, and they should have enough, but only if they can find another goalscorer.
Spurs should have won the league last season, but they once again showed their frailties and it cost them. Still they managed a 3rd place finish and an automatic Champions League spot, although finishing below Arsenal for the 21st consecutive year must really be sticking in the neck of Spurs fans. Pochettino knows that this squad has talent, and he’s brought high quality, young players through. The Champions League is a decent respite from the Europa League Thursdays and his squad should be better rested for this campaign. The Europa League did give them an insight into Europe and they will need that experience if they are to mount a successful challenge for the Champions League. Wanyama has been brought in to offer cover for Dier, and Janssen has been brought in to support Kane. A lot will rest on his shoulders this year, and after a hugely disappointing Euro’s he will want to hit this season running. Goals will be backed up by Eriksen in the midfield, and they have a very strong defence when they are playing well. This side may not have too many superstars in it, but it’s a young team of really talented players. The teams around them have bought well this summer, and I feel that Spurs haven’t invested quite as much, or as well, and they may end up slipping down the table. However, this team bonded last year, and that experience of playing together should bring out better performances. With www.skybet.com offering 6/4 that they make the top 4, it’s worth a look.
The exit of Flores was a huge disappointment for me at the end of last season. I thought that he took a very average side, ensured their safety and even managed a good FA cup run. He’s been replaced by Mazzarri, a manager who took Napoli to 2nd in Serie A. The problem for this season could be scoring goals. Last year only 2 players in the squad managed more than 2 goals, Deeney and Ighalo. If sides manage to contain those two players they will be in big trouble. The defence and midfield are filled with decent players, but no-one is a stand out in my opinion. They’ve brought in Isaac Success but whether he is a success remains to be seen. It looks like Watford will be in a relegation battle this season, but they should have enough talent to beat the drop. There’s not much else to say about Watford, apart from another tough season lies ahead.
Pulis usually organises his side one way and one way only. They play defensively and scrap for every point. It’s a tediously effective style of football and something that the man has built his reputation on. The problem I see for them this year is the lack of goals, and the increased spending from teams around them. They haven’t spent and Pulis is already extracting every drop of talent from a relatively poor squad. They don’t keep the ball well enough, and create far too few chances. Rondon is a good player, but without a good supply his effects will always be limited. Rickie Lambert needs to contribute more than just a single goal as it looks like Berahino is on the way out. The squad is aging, and the defence, whilst better organised has big flaws, in both pace and skill, something that even the teams in the lower echelons are starting to bring in. The last 5 games at home include Arsenal, Southampton. Leicester, Liverpool and Chelsea, that’s a horrible run in, and for a side that needs to get wins at home, they need to do it sooner rather than later. Unfortunately I feel that run in will be too much for the Baggies and a slow death will see the end of their Premier League stay. West Brom to be relegated at 5/2 with www.betvictor.com .
Last but not least are West Ham. Last season was a successful campaign but it could easily have been so much better. They conceded too many goals last season and that’s something that needs to be addressed this season. Cresswell is a long term absentee and cover for that position needs to be decided upon quickly. The Champions League and a European spot has to be their aim this season, but the small squad is lacking in a number of key areas, which could hinder their progress. We’ve already mentioned the need for cover at the back, but they also need to improve up top. With Carroll being injury prone, a lot of the pressure resides on the shoulders of Valencia, a player with all the talent, but a disappointing record. That lack of a goalscorer cost them last season as they were unable to get a number of games over the line, settling for a point. Payet is the star man, when he plays West Ham generally win, and if they can keep him fit for the full campaign, they could really upset the teams at the top. The squad is just a bit too thin for my liking and I don’t believe they can sustain a challenge across the whole season.